Bats in Tulare County test positive for rabies, officials say

Two bats in Tulare County have tested positive for rabies, according to health officials.

Tulare County Public Health says one bat was found in the City of Tulare while another was located in South Visalia.

"Bats exhibiting abnormal behavior, such as being active during the day, sitting on the ground, or not being able to fly or evade contact are more likely to have rabies," says Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught. "Do not attempt to handle bats, whether they are found in your home, on your property, or in a public place; call your local animal control instead."

The department says in 2018, 13 percent of bats tested by the Health Lab were found to have rabies.

It says the saliva of an infected bat can transmit rabies through a bite or contact of the saliva with mucous membranes or an open cut or wound.

Health officials say rabies is a serious and fatal illness, with an incubation period of one week to several months. If there is an exposure, the disease can be prevented with a safe vaccine and immune globulin.

The department says if you find a bat that you believe has rabies contact the animal control officer in your area.

If you have had contact with a bat, been bitten by a bat, or a bat was in a room where there was a young child or someone was sleeping, call a doctor or the Tulare County Public Health Branch Communicable Disease office at (559) 685-5720 to discuss whether rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is needed.

Health officials say the vaccine should be initiated as soon as possible after exposure is recognized, but if the concern is not identified initially, the vaccine is effective anytime after exposure, as long as symptoms have not developed.

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